A portrait of Catherine II and her letter to Count Rumyantsev were sold at an auction in London for 951 thousand pounds sterling ($ 93.5 million rubles). This follows from the post on the website of the auction house MacDougalls & rsquo; s.
The letter and portrait of the Empress were exhibited under one lot at number 14. The cost of the entire lot was estimated at 800 thousand – 1.2 million pounds (78.6 million – 118 million rubles).
What letter went under the hammer?
A letter from Catherine the Great to Count Peter Alexandrovich Rumyantsev about smallpox vaccination was sold at the auction. It bears the inscription “ In Kiev '' and dated April 20, 1787.
The letter contains instructions to the Governor-General and Vice-Regent of Little Russia, Count Rumyantsev, to vaccinate the inhabitants of the province entrusted to him against smallpox.
smallpox vaccinations, which we know is very harmful, especially for ordinary people. Such vaccination should be widespread everywhere, and now it is all the more convenient since there are doctors or paramedics in almost all areas, and this does not require huge costs '', & ndash; the letter says.
Letter from Catherine II & mdash; this is the first historical document about the first vaccination campaign in Russia. By the time of his departure, the empress and her son, the heir to the throne Pavel Petrovich, had been vaccinated against smallpox for almost twenty years. But the task of vaccinating the country's population remained extremely important, smallpox epidemics raged throughout Europe and claimed the lives of entire villages.
Catherine II was vaccinated in October 1768, she became the first person to be vaccinated in Russia. At that time, they were vaccinated by the variolation method: the vaccinated person was made several subcutaneous incisions on the arm and a thread or tissue moistened with smallpox material obtained from the patient was pulled through them. The mortality rate among those vaccinated by this method was about 2%, which was 20 times lower than among the unvaccinated.
What kind of portrait was sold at the auction?
The second item in the lot was one of the ceremonial portraits of Empress Catherine the Great by Dmitry Levitsky. It is made in oil on canvas, the size of the painting is & ndash; 81.5 cm by 64 cm.
Painting & laquo; Portrait of Catherine & nbsp; II & raquo; artist Dmitry Levitsky, presented at the & nbsp; pre-auction exhibition. Photo: RIA Novosti/Evgeny Odinokov
Levitsky became famous for his portraits of the empress and representatives of the court. The artist created about 20 images of Catherine II, but there is no evidence that the ruler ever posed for him personally. One of the most famous ceremonial portraits of the Empress by Levitsky & ndash; & nbsp; & laquo; Catherine II & nbsp; in the form of the Legislator in the temple of the goddess of Justice '').
In the portrait that went under the hammer, Catherine the Great is depicted waist-deep in a small crown and mantle lined with ermine, with ribbons of the orders of St. Andrew the First-Called, St. Vladimir the 1st degree and St. George 1st degree. The portrait was painted in the style of Johann-Baptiste Lampi the Elder, who made two full-length ceremonial portraits of the Empress. Catherine II, depicted by Levitsky, looks younger than on Lampi's canvases. He softened the oval shape of her face and gave her lips a restrained half-smile. The merit of the artist is that he embellished the image of the ruler, without diminishing the external resemblance. & Nbsp;
Sources: & nbsp;
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